I chopped up the highlights video I posted earlier this week into gifs to help illustrate some main takeaways from seeing Culver in person Monday night. He scored 42 points to lead Coronado to a 21-point Class 5A bi-district win over Amarillo Caprock, but controlled the game in so many other ways as well.
Here is what stood out to me.
I. Size and Athletic Ability
First off, you have to acknowledge Culver has been blessed with great genes. He's a legit 6-5 with those coveted condor arms. As far as his frame goes he passed my standing next to him interview test where I judge if a recruit's listed height/weight is legit or not. I'm 6-4 and he was looking down at me slightly and his frame/broad shoulders suggest he could easily carry 10-15 pounds of muscle without losing any athletic ability.
Speaking of athletic ability... his combination of size, jumping ability, deceptive quickness, control in the air and touch/hand-eye coordination is rare. His older brother, Trey, won the NCAA indoor high jump championship last year and of course Jarrett can jump out of the gym as well.
In fact, his potential is probably higher than any Texas Tech basketball signee since I started at RP in October of 2013. Of course my dad used to tell me I had a lot of potential all the time and would follow it up with, "you know what potential means don't you? It means you haven't done anything yet." He would follow that up with one of those raised eyebrows with pursed lips dad looks.
II. Court Awareness/Gamesmanship
One of the most underreported abilities in basketball is game management. You always hear about how a quarterback "manages the game" in football but it can be equally important in hoops, especially from a guy such as Culver who does a lot of everything for Coronado (30-3) and expends a lot of energy. This doesn't show up in highlight videos and even as much on TV but is very apparent live. The two best basketball players at game management I ever witnessed were LeBron James and Jeff Hornacek. Culver, who I believe played the whole game Monday night, showed a good feel for when to conserve his energy and when to turn it on which would lead to a flurry of activity and monster runs for the Mustangs at the end of both the second quarter and the beginning of the fourth to put the game away.
III. Monster on the Block
I didn't know this before the game but Coronado's bread and butter is getting Culver the ball on the block and working from there. I had heard about him as a point guard and most of his highlights I had watched showed him either on the break, driving or working on the perimeter.
Well, with the game still in doubt (Coronado up by 6 over Amarillo Caprock with a little over 6 minutes left in the second quarter) Culver put on a clinic in the low post. He indeed brought the ball up the court most possessions despite Caprock doubling him full court to try and keep the ball out of his hands. He would usually get the ball anyway, bring the ball up the court, pass the ball to a guard and immediately go post up on the block and proceed to orchestrate the offense.
Initially, Caprock double and tripled him. Here is the result:
That play above got my attention as much as any I witnessed Monday night. He orchestrated the whole possession, moved guys into position and knew his teammate would be open in the corner. His ability to create this play and execute (notice he made that pass from the opposite block) showed a high I.Q. and great feel for the game. I love how he took advantage of Caprock's slow double to find his teammate. Culver is a very good passer. More on this later.
On the next possession Caprock defenders stayed at home and they elected to single cover him on the block. Whoops.
Notice how under control and adeptly Culver finished with his off hand in traffic. Easy pickings.
IV. In the Open Court
Culver is an excellent ball handler, has great vision and the above mentioned athleticism makes him a terror in the open court and this is where I think he'll make his first impression on fans as a Red Raider. Notice how quickly he got off the floor on his second jump to follow his own shot. The one negative from Culver on Monday night was at times he was a little careless with the ball, but that was usually due to him trying to push the ball up the court.
V. The facilitator
Culver is not only a willing passer but really good at setting up his teammates and visualizing the plays ahead. This is one of his biggest strengths as a player. He makes headlines pouring in 40ish points a game, but Coronado is ranked because he makes his teammates better and has a great rapport with them.
- Culver knocked down at least 7-8 free throws in the fourth quarter alone as Caprock tried to prolong the game. He has an excellent stroke.
- He's coachable. At one point Coronado coach Randy Dean stomped his foot, slammed his fist into the palm of his other hand and screamed "do what I tell you to do!" at Culver who was maybe 10 feet away. Culver just nodded, said yes sir and complied. It may not sound like much, but that was a good sign for me.
- He seems like a good guy. I have met and talked with his parents, brothers and even a little bit with his grandma and man, are they an impressive family. That isn't a necessity, but sure helps when it comes to team chemistry.
- It will be interesting to see how far Culver can carry this team in the playoffs. Next up is El Paso Burges in the Class 5A area round 6:30 p.m. Friday in Monahans.